Conversion as sacrament

The-dew-638110BreakPoint editor G. Shane Morris, who now believes in infant baptism, explains why most of his fellow evangelicals don’t.  He says that the reason is not so much differences in Biblical interpretation, but rather the tendency to understand a conversion experience in sacramental terms.  Thus the sacrament of conversion replaces the sacrament of baptism as the rite of Christian initiation.  He goes on to discuss the difficulties with that.

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“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows”

cemetery-1138972_640_optStudying the prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament during Advent is a good exercise.  They tell us much about Him.

Consider Isaiah 53, which takes up deep into the life of Christ and unpacks the exactly what happened in His atoning death on the Cross, while also pointing to His Resurrection.

Especially striking to me is the truth it states that has strangely attracted less attention than it deserves:  Not only was He “pierced for our transgressions” and “crushed for our iniquities.”  He also “has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.”

That is, God the Son took into Himself both the sins of the world and the suffering of the world, atoning for them.  Remember this the next time you feel the force of the “problem of evil” and the “problem of suffering.”

After the jump is the entire prophecy of Isaiah 53, with some verses bolded for your Advent contemplation.

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Christ the King

Crucifixion_Grunewald_optHispanic martyrs put before the firing squads by socialist dictators would call out as their last words “Viva el Cristo rey!” Long live Christ the King! Or, Christ the King lives!  That’s a good phrase to keep in mind.

Yesterday was the last Sunday of the Church Year, also known, among other names, as Christ the King Sunday.  As a conclusion to our recent series of posts on Two Kingdom theology, we need to remember who is the King of both Kingdoms.

After the jump, a bulletin note on Christ’s kingship from Pilgrim Lutheran Church here in Australia. [Read more…]

The Two Cities vs. the Two Kingdoms

It’s common to associate Augustine’s Two Cities with Luther’s Two Kingdoms.  But they are really quite different.  In The City of God, Augustine defines the two in terms of two different loves:  The City of God has to do with the love of God; the City of Man has to do with love of self.

Thus the two cities are in opposition to each other.  This is a scheme for dualism, for ascetic rejection of the world, giving rise to monasticism.

Luther’s Two Kingdoms is a paradigm for embracing the world.  The Kingdom of the Left, for Luther, is about neither love of God nor love of self, but love of neighbor.

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A Lutheran critique of Escondido theology

Westminster Seminary in Escondido, California, has some impressive theologians–Michael Horton, David Van Drunen, and other Calvinists of the sort who appear on White Horse Inn.  I know some of these guys, think highly of them, and appreciate how some of them are being influenced by Luther and Lutheran theology.  But though they speak of the distinction between Law and Gospel, have a stronger influence on the Sacraments, and teach about vocation, they are still Calvinists and their use of Luther is still within a Calvinist context.

A controversy has broken out in Reformed circles about the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms, as formulated by these Escondido theologians, particularly David Van Drunen in his book Living in Two Kingdoms:  A Biblical Vision of Christ and Culture.  He is developing an alternative to the “one kingdom” model of the Dominionists and to the Abraham Kuyper’s “neocalvinism” with its notion of “sphere sovereignty” over every dimension of life.

This is a worthy project, but Van Drunen’s version of the Two Kingdoms is NOT the same as the Lutheran view.  Yet the two are being confused.  As other Reformed theologians push back against this so-called “Escondido theology,” they are saying that Van Drunen’s view is the official position of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.  I’ve heard that Dr. Van Drunen’s book is being taught in courses on Lutheran theology.  And, to top it off, I’m told that I am even mentioned in at least one book on the subject as advocating this Escondido theology!

At that Two Kingdoms conference I participated in, Jordan Cooper gave an important presentation entitled “Escondido Theology: An Evaluation and Critique.”

After the jump, I’ll sum up some of the differences and post the video of Jordan’s presentation. [Read more…]

The curses on vocation

Picking up from yesterday’s post, something else I learned from Jordan Cooper’s presentation on the Two Kingdoms and Creation.  He pointed out that just as God established human culture by appointing the vocations of marriage, parenthood, and work in Paradise, the curses after the Fall are directed specifically to vocation:  conflict within marriage; pain in parenthood; frustration with work.

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